Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays are one of the newer teams in the MLB, as they joined the league for the 1998 season and have always been in the American League. The team was known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays until 2007, where they switched to being the Rays. The Tampa Bay Rays’ stadium is located in St Petersburg, Florida.
After being renamed, the team would see the most success that it had ever seen, as the Rays would win the AL East for the first time in franchise history and secure themselves a playoff berth from a position other than the wildcard. The Rays would also advance to their first-ever world series in 2008, where they were beaten in five games by the Philadelphia Phillies. The Rays would see a few more playoff series after their world series loss but would be unable to win any of them.
The team then went through multiple losing seasons and is now in the process of rebuilding, trying to get back to the team that they once were when they reached the World Series. The team is currently owned by Stuart Sternberg and they play at Tropicana Field, known for its retractable dome roof and for being one of the least aesthetically pleasing stadiums in all of the pro sports. Their current manager is Kevin Cash, who played catcher for the Red Sox and Blue Jays in the early 2000s.
When talking about the best players in Tampa Bay History, it is impossible to go without mentioning Carl Crawford, who is widely regarded as the best Ray of all time. Crawford leads the team in career RBIs, batting average, hits, and stolen bases. He played with the team from 2002-2010.
Evan Longoria is another legend in Tampa Bay baseball history. Longoria leads the team in runs, home runs, and at-bats. He finished as the rookie of the year in his first season with Tampa Bay in 2008 and was a leader for the team as they made several playoff runs. Longoria was also an all-star his first three seasons with the team and won a gold glove for his defensive play at 3rd base in 2 of his first 3 seasons with the team. Longoria’s production, unfortunately, declined after an excellent first few seasons in the league and he didn’t follow on the blazing trajectory that he started on, and has been an average player for a few years now.
In terms of pitching, the most notable pitcher that the Rays have had on their roster has been David Price. In his first three seasons, Price was selected to two All Star Games, finished second in Cy Young voting, and got the win in a crucial game seven that sent the Rays to the world series. James Shields was another longtime starter for the Rays, pitching seven seasons for the team and finishing third in Cy Young voting in 2011.
The Present and the Future
The Tampa Bay Rays are rebuilding very successfully and are starting to make their way back into the playoff conversation. They finished the 2019 season with 96 wins, ending second in the AL East to the New York Yankees. Unfortunately, the team was unable to secure themselves a postseason position, but they hope 2020 is the year.
The Rays are off to a blistering start in the 2020 season, as they are first in the AL East (leading by 3.5 games) as of September 15. Tampa Bay has a lot of young talent that is poised to put them in a position to compete for the foreseeable future. Though the team may not have a standout star, the Tampa Bay Rays have a large depth of capable hitters and pitchers that allow the team to get the job done on a daily basis.